Stulhmiller: Anti-coal group promotes flawed report about ports

This piece was posted as a Letter to the Editor in The Olympain on December 22, 2014

The Olympian recently reported on a study by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA), which questions the importance of proposed bulk export terminals in the Northwest, citing a perceived downturn in global coal demand and consumption. The report completely missed the mark.

First, it excludes the documented facts related to the growing demand for coal overseas. A point reinforced by the recent agreement between Shore Terminals Investment Corporation in British Columbia and Cloud Peak Energy, which will increase Asian coal exports out of the province by 2 million tons through the year 2024.

However, the real failing of the IEEFA paper is its sole focus on coal exports as the driver of the export terminals. They completely ignore the fact that coal will be just one of many commodities shipped through these American terminals.

Presently, we have a high volume of commodities in Washington bound for export – things like timber, grain, and other agricultural products – but an unreliable system of getting them to their destination. This is particularly troubling to Washington farmers- our members- who depend on getting their goods to buyers in a timely manner. With these new terminals, our products will be shipped from Washington rather than from California or Canada.

Washington has the most trade-dependent economy in the country; ensuring a reliable network of export facilities is vital to our long-term prosperity. Risking Washington’s economic future is not a choice agriculture is willing to take.